When COVID-19 first struck, one of the biggest problems was sourcing enough personal protective equipment, or PPE, especially for health care workers. (Do you remember how hard it was to buy face masks? It took a few months before manufacturing and distribution networks caught up with demand.) Now, we see EVERYONE wearing the proper equipment.
Being PROPERLY EQUIPPED. It’s important for health care workers. But it’s even MORE important for SPIRITUAL health care workers. That’s US. Seeking to bring Jesus’ cure for sin to an infected world. A world suffering under the effects of sin – something far worse than a virus.
There are dangers all around us. Risks of infection. We’re attacked with different priorities and moralities on all sides. In the media, in politics, in movies, from our friends and neighbours. A constant, nagging pressure to think and behave differently in relationships and business and personal ethics and decision-making.
The Christian needs to be PROPERLY EQUIPPED. In the language of Ephesians 6, there’s a BATTLE going on, and we better not be un-equipped, or even UNDER-equipped. It says
11 Put on the FULL ARMOR OF GOD so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
It’s GOD’S armour. And he wants us wearing it. His armoury is fully stocked with the best equipment. Perfectly suited for the task. Fail proof, and effective.
And the writer to the Hebrews puts it like this in his closing words. Hebrews 13:21. “May the God of peace… EQUIP YOU WITH EVERYTHING GOOD FOR DOING HIS WILL.
It’s God’s WILL, and God’s PROMISE. That every believer be THOROUGHLY EQUIPPED to do what he wants us to do.
We’re going to think about what that means in THREE WAYS. Equipped BY, equipped WITH, and equipped FOR.
- Equipped BY
The God of peace
Firstly, equipped BY. Who’s doing the equipping? From v20. The God of PEACE. The God who IS peace, and who MAKES peace. It’s a phrase that summarises the way the whole book of Hebrews describes God.
Way back in Ch 1 v3. Through Jesus, God provides PURIFICATION FOR OUR SINS.
Or ch 4 v15 (as well as lots of other places). He’s provided Jesus, the great high priest, SO THAT WE MIGHT APPROACH THE THRONE OF GRACE WITH CONFIDENCE.
Flip over to Ch 7. v18. The old law was weak and useless. It couldn’t bridge the gap, so God SET IT ASIDE, and introduced a better hope by which we DRAW NEAR TO GOD. Removed a barrier, AND built a bridge. (He’s the God of peace.)
Or in Ch 8 v8. Quoting from Jeremiah 31. God LONGED for the time when he would make A NEW COVENANT, and write his laws on his people’s hearts. A time when he could be their God, and they could be his people. And that’s available for US, NOW.
We could go on. But you get the idea. Now jump back to Ch 13. Here at the end, the writer prays. “May the GOD OF PEACE equip you with everything good for doing his will”.
In other words, THIS is the God who wants to equip you. If he’s already done ALL THAT in THE PAST, you can have COMPLETE CONFIDENCE he’s going to equip you into the future.
Raised Jesus from dead
Let’s move on to the next aspect of who’s equipping us.
20 May the God of peace, WHO THROUGH THE BLOOD OF THE ETERNAL COVENANT BROUGHT BACK FROM THE DEAD OUR LORD JESUS,
A couple of ideas here. As we’ve already seen in Hebrews, God’s replaced a temporary, ineffective covenant with a PERMANENT, POWERFUL one. And he’s SEALED the contract with the blood of the perfect sacrifice, his Son Jesus. In other words, the God who wants to equip you is completely TRUSTWORTHY and RELIABLE. He’s written his promises IN BLOOD. Promises that can’t be undone.
And he’s also POWERFUL. He brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus. He RAISED him. And he’s now REIGNING WITH God. That’s the power at work in the equipment he supplies us with!
The Great shepherd of the sheep
And another aspect of what God’s like is that he’s COMPASSIONATE. The Jesus he raised from the dead is THE GREAT SHEPHERD OF THE SHEEP.
The God who wants to equip us is the One who provided us with A GREAT SHEPHERD.
Which is just what we need. We’re wandering, dumb animals. Who easily get lost. Wander off the safe path. Who need a great shepherd. To lead us beside quiet waters, to lead us through the valley of the shadow of death, as Psalm 23 puts it. We need A GOOD shepherd, says Jesus in John 10:11 who LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE for his sheep.
That’s the sort of shepherd our COMPASSIONATE God has given us. 1 Peter 5:4 calls Jesus the CHIEF Shepherd. Which is great news for those of us who are UNDER shepherds. Who care for a small portion of God’s flock. We’ll never do the job as well as the CHIEF shepherd. We WILL fail, we WILL fall asleep on the job. And that’s because we’re SHEEP FIRST. (Sheep who need a SHEPHERD, TOO). But we have a GREAT shepherd over US, as well as over our flock.
The point of all these descriptions is THIS. The God who wants to equip you with everything good is not some fallible, mismanaged, under-funded, over-worked government department. But the powerful, trustworthy, compassionate God who paid the ultimate price to secure our peace.
- Equipped WITH
The second point. What are we equipped WITH? The word for equip has a few ideas connected with it. It can just mean to MAKE or FORM. God FORMED the world in Hebrews 11:3.
The word also has the idea of MENDING or RESTORING. In Matthew 4:21, the disciples are MENDING nets. EQUIPPING them for their original purpose. And in 1 Thessalonians 3:10 Paul wants to see his readers again so he can SUPPLY WHAT IS LACKING in their faith.
It’s why God gives gifts to the church in Ephesians 4:12, so that his people might be PREPARED for works of service. (Same word again). And that’s the idea here. That God equips us so that we might be COMPLETED, FILLED UP with what we’re lacking. And ready for his purpose.
So, what are we equipped WITH? The SHORT answer, from v21: “equipped with EVERYTHING GOOD FOR DOING HIS WILL.” In other words, whatever’s needed.
And perhaps the key to that is found in the verse before. God’s given us THE LORD JESUS, THAT GREAT SHEPHERD OF THE SHEEP. HE’S what we need in every situation.
His victory over sin and death means he has the full arsenal of weapons to deal with any situation. Whether it be the spiritual WEAPONS of Ephesians 6. Like faith, truth, righteousness, salvation, and the word of God. Or the spiritual GIFTS of Ephesians 4, or Romans 12. Like pastoring, evangelising, encouraging, leading, giving, or governing. All for building up God’s people. Or the spiritual FRUIT of Galatians 6. Like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, humility, self-control.
Jesus, our great shepherd of the sheep. Will PROVIDE for us, and PROTECT us, and LEAD us. He said THIS to his disciples in Luke 21:14. He warned they’d be persecuted, arrested, and brought to trial. Then he said.
14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 FOR I WILL GIVE YOU WORDS AND WISDOM that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
That’s a GREAT shepherd who provides for his sheep!
Jesus promised to equip us. (That he’ll give us WHATEVER we need, in whatever SITUATION we need to do his will). PAUL know that equipping. I wonder if you’ve ever EXPERIENCED that?
A few months after I’d started in ministry, I got a call from Blacktown hospital about 11 o’clock at night. I’d never been to the hospital, and done very little hospital visiting at all. The nurse said a guy was dying, and wanted a Presbyterian minister to visit. To be honest, I was trying to think of someone else to do it instead. But I agreed to go.
In the car on the way, I was praying for God’s help. I felt completely ill-equipped. I walked into the room at the hospital, still not knowing what I was going to do. The guy was still alive. His family was surrounding him, looking devastated. Everyone was looking at me, as if I had the tools to deal with the situation!
I don’t remember exactly what I said. But I introduced myself. I read a Psalm. I talked about the hope we have in death because of Jesus. And I prayed. Only took about ten minutes. And when we opened our eyes at the end of the prayer, the guy had just stopped breathing. Like he’d been waiting for that. It was quite extraordinary.
I don’t know what the outcome was for that guy, or for his family. But, somehow, I’d felt EQUIPPED for the TASK.
The feeling of not knowing what I’m going to do is a fairly common one for me in this job. And that’s OKAY. Because I DON’T have all the answers. I’m a sheep who needs a great Shepherd. On my own, I’ve got nothing. God promises to equip us with everything good for doing his will.
And to comfort a family, to point them to Jesus, and to pray with them – that’s God’s will. So he’ll equip me.
Or what about THIS? Your kids are growing up. Situations come up that you feel completely unequipped to deal with. Bullying, boyfriends, or alcohol. Driving, learning difficulties, or not wanting anything to do with Jesus anymore. No friends, or the wrong friends.
God promises to EQUIP you with everything good for doing his will. And it’s God’s WILL to raise your kids healthy, well-adjusted, and following Jesus. So he’ll EQUIP you for it. So look to him with trust. ASK him. Pray these verses for yourself.
Or perhaps it’s ENDURING A DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIP. With a spouse who’s either cold, or hostile. Or judgmental parents or in-laws, who can never say a positive word to you. You feel like giving up. You just don’t have the STRENGTH any more.
But God promises to equip you with everything good for doing his will. And it’s his WILL for you to be faithful to your marriage vows. It’s his will to honour your parents. So he’ll equip you for it. So look to him with trust. ASK him. Pray these verses for yourself.
Or perhaps you’ve been dreadfully HURT. Cut to the core. Someone’s BETRAYED you. And it’s just eating you up inside. And you just can’t imagine how you can love them. How you can move on.
But God promises to equip you with everything good for doing his will. And it’s his WILL for you to love your enemies. And to FORGIVE as you have been forgiven. His will for you to LIVE IN PEACE with everyone. So look to him. He’ll equip you for it. ASK him. Pray these verses for yourself.
Or, let’s try one more. It’s been a shocker of a day at work. Deadlines missed, stuff-ups galore. Some major dummy spits. The drive home was a nightmare. You pull into the driveway. And the first thing you can hear are the arguments and screams. It sounds like the kids are tearing each other apart. You hope it’s next door. But no, it’s YOUR family. You can only imagine what state your wife is in. You feel like turning around and going straight back to work. You just don’t have the energy to cope. The tool kit’s empty.
But God promises to equip you with everything good for doing his will. And it’s his WILL for you to lead your family by serving them. To support your wife. To love them like Jesus. So look to him. He’ll equip you for it. ASK him. Pray these verses for yourself. Toughen up. Turn off the music, get out of the car, and get into it.
Working in us
But perhaps you think you just haven’t got the strength. Then listen up, because there’s more! Not only is God the God of peace who provides the great shepherd to guide and lead us. And who equips us with everything good for doing his will.
He works WITH us to achieve what’s pleasing to him. He doesn’t just hand out the equipment and leave us on our own. He’s the ENERGY SOURCE, the PARTNER and CO-WORKER, as well as the PROVIDER. See it there in v21?
God equips you with everything good for doing his will, WORKING IN US WHAT’S PLEASING TO HIM.
It actually repeats the same word for DOING. He equips US for DOING HIS WILL, then DOING IN US what’s pleasing to him.
There’s a COOPERATION, God AND us working together. To do what pleases him. But it’s not like riding a tandem bicycle. If God’s doing the pedalling, we can just put our feet up and enjoy the ride. No, when God is doing in us what’s pleasing to him, that should MOTIVATE us, EMPOWER and ENCOURAGE us, to work all the HARDER. Because there’s A POINT to it. REAL CHANGE is POSSIBLE. In yourself, and in the situations you’re working for.
Paul puts it like this in Colossians 1:29.
28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 TO THIS END I LABOR, STRUGGLING WITH ALL HIS ENERGY, WHICH SO POWERFULLY WORKS IN ME.
US working hard, BECAUSE we know God’s at work in us, making our work EFFECTIVE. That’s the sort of equipping we’re thinking about in these final verses in Hebrews.
- Equipped FOR… to give Jesus glory
Finally, let’s think about what we’ve been equipped FOR. Short answer. Obviously, it’s there in v21. We’ve been equipped with everything good FOR DOING HIS WILL. FOR WHAT’S PLEASING TO HIM. Which is all sorts of things. In all sorts of areas. In all sorts of ways. And we’ve thought about a few of them already.
But let me focus on just ONE ASPECT of what we’ve been equipped FOR. To give GLORY to Jesus. See it there at the end of v21?
through Jesus Christ, to whom BE GLORY FOR EVER AND EVER. Amen.
God equips us with everything good. And works all these pleasing things in us THROUGH Jesus Christ, our great shepherd. (BECAUSE of him. At his initiation and by his authority.) AND SO ALL GLORY BELONGS TO HIM. FOREVER. That’s your PURPOSE in LIFE. (It’s why God elected you, called you, saved you, reconciled you.) It’s the goal of your church ministry, the goal of your work life, your family life, the goal of your marriage, your friendships. The goal of your education, your recreation, your retirement. It’s the purpose of your words, your actions, your thoughts. And, when you die, it’s what your purpose will be for all eternity. TO CAUSE ALL GLORY TO BELONG TO JESUS.
In one glorious sentence in Ephesians 1, from v3 to 14, Paul paints a huge picture of the meaning of life. What we’re here for. V5 of Eph 1. God predestined us to be adopted as his sons TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORIOUS GRACE. Or down to v10. Actually still the same sentence in Greek. The mystery of his will is TO BRING ALL THINGS TOGETHER UNDER THE HEADSHIP OF Jesus. In other words, that everything might give JESUS ALONE all the honour and glory. Or finally, down in v12. We were chosen so that we MIGHT BE FOR THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY.
That’s what God’s equipped you FOR. For the praise of his glory.
Is that what you’re DOING? Are people looking at YOUR LIFE, and saying “Praise Jesus for what he’s doing in … David’s life! How GOOD is Jesus!? How powerful, and precious, and lovely, and gracious and forgiving, and loving?!”
Let me send you out into this week with THAT GOAL in mind.
20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, TO WHOM BE GLORY FOR EVER AND EVER. AMEN.